the great transmogrification

da shield_2015

One of the funny little quirks of modern society occurs when an athlete who hasn’t played professionally in years officially announces his retirement. Though maybe it’s not funny so much as depressing, as this is mostly an issue of bureaucracy: no matter how ludicrous the idea of one continuing to play one’s chosen sport may be, due to age, injury, or incarceration, one must file the proper paperwork to truly be retired.

Anyway. Whenever this happens, there’s always a little blip of press and flurry of lame Twitter jokes. And since megastars never drift into obscurity, but flame out like bursting supernovae—you will know when Tom Brady is finished, people—these retirement announcements always serve as a nice little reminder of a player whose career you once enjoyed but might not have thought about for years.

That’s a helluva lot of preamble to say that the National Evil is shifting from an active blog to an archive of past glories—which event some might say happened in, oh, 2012. Or maybe even 2010. But this here is the official announcement.

This isn’t the end, though. Far from it! This is merely a transmogrification, as the True Face of Evil, Edward Cowan, has been hard at work on his novels and eponymous website. Much of the kind of content you’ve come to expect from the Evil will still be churning its way into the ether, but henceforth it will emanate from

A.K.A. Volcano Base Alpha.

So if you’ve just stumbled upon the Evil, enjoy your visit! It’s not going anywhere, and my thoughts on Phil Collins remain as fierce now as they were back in the day. And when you’re done here, come see my new digs. They’re a little fancier, but you can still walk around in your PJs.

. . . Because that’s the fundamental difference between athletes and writers: jocks have to retire because they don’t have it anymore, whereas writers can always get better. Here’s hoping.


The National Evil



it’s a bitch, girl: finding the true, beating heart of a hall and oates classic


Something always bothered me about Hall and Oates’ “Rich Girl.” I could never place it, but something was . . . wrong with that song. (I’ll pause here for you to make the requisite, “What isn’t wrong with ‘Rich Girl?’” crack.) But I never knew what until this morning, when, whilst pacing the halls at work, I heard it oozing from the overhead speakers. And it hit me!

Sing with me, if you will, the chorus:


You’re a rich girl and you’ve gone too far

‘Cause you know it don’t matter anyway.

You can rely on the old man’s money.

You can rely on the old man’s money!


That’s it!—why repeat the third line?

Granted, Hall does add a nice bit of exclamatory emphasis there; you imagine him gripping said rich girl by the arms and trying to shake some sense into her. But that’s wasted song real estate, man! The chorus is the only part anyone will remember—why not get your, ahem, money’s worth? How about . . .


You can rely on the old man’s money.

You can consume all the milk and honey!


If you want to be conservative with it, basically restating the essential theme of line three in, as Black Francis once said, a poetic kind of way. Or, to dig even deeper into the imagery . . .


You can rely on the old man’s money.

You can pretend that it’s always sunny!


Because, hey, you’re a rich girl, and it never rains on the rich and beautiful. (I’m assuming you’re beautiful if Darryl Hall is so concerned and he’s not, you know, talking about his daughter.) Or . . .


You can rely on the old man’s money.

You can devour a cute lil’ bunny!


Raw! In a pet store! Right in front of a pack of little kids! Because you’re rich, and there are no consequences for the rich! Now that’s hammering it home. Darryl Hall, America’s first 99-percenter!

And it would have made for a hell of a music video.

. . . Or something along those lines. All’s I’m saying . . . don’t waste the real estate, Darryl. That’s not how people get rich in the first place.

the looooong hiatus (or: we are not dead! only . . . um, sleeping)

This guy’s a genius. Do check out his site by clicking on the picture.

Look upon the shameful dates of the posts beneath this one. Yes—go ahead, look; I’m showing you my scars, and you are obliged by a mixture of pity and morbid curiosity to humor me. Like that bunion Grandma keeps forcing you to examine every Thanksgiving.

Lo, it has been long since the National Evil spewed forth invective, praise (OK, mostly invective), and wonder upon the world. What have I been up to, you wonder?

1. Writing (non-blog division);

2. Gradually drifting off to an unbridgeable distance between popular culture and my desperately flailing, outstretched arms;

3. Battling evil!*

*Yes, for the National Evil to battle evil is problematic in a travelling-back-in-time-and-accidentally-crushing-your-great-grandfather-with-your-time-machine kind of way.

Anyway, let’s focus on 1. I’ve been writing novels. My first love, my one true passion. I hope you get to read one someday.

In the meantime, the National Evil isn’t dead dead; like the Cthulhu of blogs, it simply waits dreaming. Continue to worship at its unholy alter, for it shall return . . .

join the war against germ warfare!

The Evil would like you to ponder the above picture of a sign taped to the door of the men’s room in his office. (And before you begin bitching about the blurriness, note that this picture was taken on Evil’s iPhone. It’s not like he was going to traipse into the john with his dSLR.)

Now let’s close in a little, get a tight shot of the illustration and focus in on the reason the Evil (or anyone) would be taking pictures in a bathroom that didn’t involve that unbelievably long and intact turd you just dropped in the toilet. (You have got to win that bet!) And . . . there:

Cute little germs, ain’t they? Especially the eyestalk guy sporting a flamethrower, bottom right. They’re even kind of sexy—by the logic of our times—right? This sign is roughly equivalent to what would happen if you replaced the trillion fiendish spiders of Arachnophobia with adorable puppies. (And yes, we’re accepting less-dated pop culture references here at the Evil. Just queue up at the window to your left.) Those germs just look like they’re playfully gnawing at your hand with their harmless little puppy teeth, no?

But perhaps the illustrator had something more devious in mind when he drew these sexy germs. Perhaps s/he, like the Evil, realizes this obsession with sterilizing every touchable surface, including our bodies, with space-age antibacterial goop is only giving evolution a goose and creating a race of überbacteria that will soon consume us all. And he was trying to subtly alert us to the fact that not all germs will stone-cold kill ya.

You need a little filth in your life, people. This is a scientistic fact—children raised in an environment which stinks of industrial-grade cleaner are much more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses of all stripe. Without the little doses of everyday scum, how can you build up a tolerance?

Which is not to say the Evil doesn’t wash his hands after doing his bathroom business. But he doesn’t fondle every object in his visual spectrum with Lysol deathwipes, either. The Evil believes in the five-second rule—still, in this day and age!—especially if the foodstuff dropped to the floor is wrapped in precious, precious bacon.

And yet . . .

Here’s the question Evil poses to you: in a world where everyone else is violently sterilizing themselves, does it even matter if you take a principled stand against paranoia? If you’re one of the dwindling number of reasonable people in this world who does not, in fact, rub the dirt off your shoulder, do you stay strong . . . or give up, because the superbug is coming whether you want it or not, thanks to your germophobe “friends?”

kickstart my black heart

Recently, several FOE bands have created Kickstarter campaigns to fund their projects. In case you don’t know, Kickstarter is a kind of online clearing-house for donations toward a new album, van, installation piece . . . whatever you want to ask people to give you money for. If your project doesn’t meet the funding goal, no one’s bank account is hit. If it does, your donators are charged and then showered with rewards in this and, surely, the next life. Like a picture of me as the cover of your album. Hint hint, Modern Skirts. I suggest this one:

Or one free bank heist using the van your small contribution helped to fund. (Looking at you, the HEAP.)

Who knows what the Kickstarter people get out of this. As one who invokes “karma” only as a tool of grudging acceptance when he is cornered into performing some act of goodwill, the Evil chooses to believe these Kickstarter folk aren’t doing it for the joy of seeing artists and whatnot fulfill (the financial elements of) their dreams. Probably something involving skimming microamounts of cash off the top to fund some sort of death ray. Because that’s what the Evil would do.

Really, the only dilemma is whether to mount said ray on a satellite locked in geosynchronous orbit ‘round Earth or in the scooped-out guts of a dormant volcano. Maybe it seems obvious, from a funding standpoint—even with advances in budget rocket technology and the availability of private launches, getting a satellite-mounted death ray into space isn’t a cheap proposition. But then, you try building the pneumatic lift needed to hoist the death ray over a steaming caldera for less than ten million bucks. Six of one, half a dozen of the other, no?*

* “Six of one, half a dozen of the other” is, by the way, a brilliant phrase. It nestles snugly in that perfect zone of cliché-ty. On the one hand, it can be said so often and in so many situations that it has been rendered virtually meaningless. Just try it. Someone asks you where you want to eat lunch? Shrug and spit, “Eh, six of one . . .” You will be lightly scorned for sucking down precious oxygen to spew into the world yet more conversational filler. On the other hand, this cliché hasn’t become so infuriatingly ubiquitous that your friends will yearn to punch you in the face for uttering it. Perfect.**

** For an example of a cliché worthy of a public pummeling, see “It is what it is.” Or “Not so much.”

Anywho. The Evil isn’t ready to Kickstart the ol’ death ray campaign. But when he is, just know that he appreciates your contribution with all his black heart. And that you will be among Lil’ Deathy’s first targets.

damn you modern world! topic #1: invitation frustration

Recently the National Evil realized this site lacked a crucial element common—perhaps lifegiving—to most of the ten trillion articles, columns, rants, interviews, YouTube confessionals, and recipes on the web: vitriol!

That’s right: you ain’t writing if you ain’t complaining, preferably about something universal to our society that there is no, I say again no, chance of changing.

Sure, sure, Evil has inveighed against the use of the “sexy” to describe nonsexy things. And about all those song titles that lie to us. But in general, you well know that the National Evil is a constant spuming fountain of optimism and good cheer.

No more! Beginning today, I channel my inner octooctogenarian (that would be the eight-limbed senior citizen festering in my heart) and damn the modern world and all it comprises!

Topic #1: Invitation Frustration. (Damn you, rhyming topics!)

Herewith, I damn thee, world, because . . .

Today, as opposed to even five years ago, inviting people to do things has become an infinite pain in the ass. And, like our universe, its painintheassitude is only expanding. To be absolutely sure you’ve done all you can, you must now email, Facebook, e-vite, and text message the entire list. And even then, there will be people complaining, “I had no idea you were getting married! Why didn’t you twitter me? That’s what I check.”

Continue reading damn you modern world! topic #1: invitation frustration

movie pitch: mannequillers!

. . . And now we receive word that some production house called “Gladden Entertainment” is developing a remake of Mannequin. As a coworker and FOE plaintively cried while yanking out locks of her own hair: “Seriously, they’re going to remake that movie? WHY???”

Evil is tempted to retort: “Because they’re finally running out of ‘80s movies to remake.” But if that were so, where’s my Adventures In Babysitting reboot? (Evil sees this as a perfect vehicle for a Lindsey Lohan comeback role in a gritty, monochrome re-envisioning of the movie for our times.)

io9 has a fun breakdown of what we should expect—nay, demand—from any Mannequin remake. But here at the Evil, things skew less to the fun and more to the . . . hmm . . . aberrant? Yeah, that’ll work.

As you know, National Evil Movie Pitchery® (a.k.a. NEMP®) has produced an unquestionably stupendous run of ideas bursting Athena-like from the Evil’s Zeuslike brow. But today calls for an exception, in which the Evil offers his NEMPing services to a project already in production . . . and brings you:


. . . Because, let’s face it, why hasn’t there been a movie about killer mannequins? (And if there has, maybe some low budget mid-70s movie lampooned by MST3K . . . well, fie on you for knowing that.) Hey, what’s scarier than a doll come to life? (You don’t have to say “any clown.” Evil knows.) A giant doll! You can even keep the romantic element to draw in the lay-days.

You take your basic elements from the original—Andrew McCarthy-esque everyman meets hottie mannequin come-to-life (starring Lindsey Lohan in her big comeback role!). She seduces him . . . but not for love. No: she needs our hero to unleash an ancient Gypsy curse that will animate all mannequins—and place them under her power. After releasing the mannequin horde, our hero desperately rushes to stop his one true love before she takes revenge on all mankind!

. . . Because, um, animated mannequins feast on human brains to, you know, stay animated?

OK, it’s a reach. Maybe this entire Mannequin reboot idea is just a bad one all around. What say you?